Thursday, December 23, 2010

Drinking of Christ's Love

This is one of the devotions from the book of devotions I have written based on the Heidelberg Catechism.  I recently was editing this devotional, and decided to post it here. 

Drinking Often of the Bridegroom’s Love by Faith


1) Heidelberg Catechism

The Seventh Commandment

You shall not commit adultery.

108 Q. What is God's will for us in the seventh commandment?

A. God condemns all unchastity. We should therefore thoroughly detest it, and, married or single, live decent and chaste lives.

2) Scripture

John 3:26-29: And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” 27 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.

John 4:4-7: And he had to pass through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob's well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water.
John 4:16-18: Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”


Yesterday we asked the question, why should we “live decent and chaste lives?” The answer we gave is grounded in the triune nature of God. God himself is a community-in-relationship that exists in eternal love, and this triune existence of God sets the pattern for human relationships, including marriage. But in today’s devotion we want to explore the question a bit further: Why should we “live decent and chaste lives?”

In John 3, John the Baptist points to Jesus as the divine bridegroom, who comes down from heaven for the sake of his bride to cleanse her, unite her to himself, and care for her. In John 4, Jesus comes to a well, which in the Old Testament is the place of betrothal. Abraham’s servant finds a bride for Isaac at a well. Jacob finds Rachel at a well. Moses finds his wife at a well. And now the true bridegroom, who is the archetype of every husband, comes to a well! It is a remarkable scene. Who will the true bridegroom marry!?

Along comes a woman who is in despair about the whole concept of marriage and husbands. None of her five husbands has satisfied her, and the sixth is merely a live-in. This woman seems an unlikely candidate for marriage to the spotless, Son of God, but this is what will soon happen by unmerited grace. The Samaritan woman has met a seventh (seven is a number associated with perfection) husband who can give her living water, which will truly satisfy her thirst. The Samaritan woman becomes a picture of the church and the grace it needs, which only its perfect Husband can sufficiently provide.

Why should we “live decent and chaste lives?” Because as Christians we have been united to Jesus Christ. He is our heavenly bridegroom, who alone can satisfy our souls. Every earthly marriage is a sign and symbol of this eternal union, which brings true, eternal joy.

So much of our problem as human beings is that we have a “wandering eye.” We don’t really believe that our God can satisfy all our needs. We doubt the fact that the Lover of our souls can satisfy us with his love. The woman at the well came to understand and believe that Jesus Christ can satisfy, for he gives living water. As he himself says, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The substance is greater than the sign. The reality is greater than the symbol. Marriage can be satisfying, but it is still just a signpost in our wilderness journey, pointing to a deeper, more ultimate reality. Why should we “live decent and chaste lives,” as believers in Christ? Because we belong to the Husband who meets the deepest needs of the human heart. Before we knew Christ, we gave our hearts in marriage to idols that will always fail us. Let’s give our hearts in marriage to the One who can never fail us, our Heavenly Husband and Lover of our souls. Let us drink deeply and often of his love by faith, for it will meet the truest, deepest needs our heart.

Discussion: How do the verses in John point to Jesus as the true husband of his people? Since Jesus is our Husband, what joys, privileges, and responsibilities do we have?

Prayer Starter: By faith receive Christ’s love through the gospel. Ask him to pour out his love into your heart by the Spirit. Thank him for being your heavenly husband, and enjoy his love by faith.

Silent Night - Mannheim Steamroller (Official Music Video - 1984)

"Through faith I am in Christ. This is the communion of Christ in which the sinner receives everything. The Spirit unites us through faith to the Savior personally. In this communion that wonderful exchange takes place: what is ours becomes Christ's, what is Christ's becomes ours. . . . In His divine judgment God has nothing more to require from us." --Willem Van't Spijker from his excellent chapter on the theology of the Heidelberg Catechism in The Church's Book of Comfort.

I praise Him!  --Bill

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Song of Instruction, Confession, and Petition

One of the crying needs of the church is to hear God's warning of judgment against sin.  This warning is often labeled as "fire and brimstone," but despite its bad press, this warning is needed so that we would flee to the One who took our judgment at the cross and be forgiven.  This song is based on the fifth petition of the Lord's Prayer, and it teaches us that our greatest problem in life is to be saved from God's righteous judgment against our sin.  God in His grace has provided this salvation from his judgment, but we must judge ourselves in repentance, and come to Jesus and his cross by faith, if we want to take hold of his gracious provision.  --Bill

Deepest Need of Ev’ry Person

To the tune: REGENT SQUARE “Angels from the Realms of Glory” ( Based on Lord’s Day 51 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 105). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
Deepest need of ev’ry person,
born in Adam’s sinful race.
Guilt of many sins committed,
how we need God’s pard’ning grace!
Speak, O Christ, a word of pardon,
“Child, your sins are all forgiv’n!”

v. 2
What could be a greater problem
than the judgment of the Lord?
Sin a great offense against Him,
men have not their God adored.
Speak, O Christ, a word of pardon,
“Child, your sins are all forgiv’n!”

v. 3
Not just sins we have committed,
evil also clings to us.
Adam’s independent nature
won’t let go, adheres to us.
Speak, O Christ, a word of pardon,
“Child, your sins are all forgiv’n!”

v. 4
O how desp’rate our condition
is before the Holy One.
In our sin we stand before Him,
in His glory we’re undone.
Speak, O Christ, a word of pardon,
“Child, your sins are all forgiv’n!”

v. 5
Father, we can never grasp it,
love that sent Your Son to us.
Taking on our mortal nature,
so that He might die for us.
Speak, O Christ, a word of pardon,
“Child, your sins are all forgiv’n!”

v. 6
We deserve not grace but justice
from the hand of God the King.
Do not hold our sins against us,
nor the sin that to us clings.
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy,
through the blood that You have shed.

v. 7
You forgive us in your mercy,
through the blood of Your dear Son.
Father, we forgive our neighbor,
for the wrongs against us done.
Thanks to You for Your great mercy,
help us show it to the world.

Lord's Day 51

Q & A 126

Q. What does the fifth request mean?

A. "Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors" means,
Because of Christ's blood,
do not hold against us, poor sinners that we are,
any of the sins we do
or the evil that constantly clings to us.^1

Forgive us just as we are fully determined,
as evidence of your grace in us,
to forgive our neighbors.^2

^1 Ps. 51:1-7; 143:2; Rom. 8:1; 1 John 2:1-2
^2 Matt. 6:14-15; 18:21-35

Are Christians Too Involved in Politics?

This is an excerpt from James M. Hamilton's new book, God's Glory in Salvation through Judgment.  As someone who is prone the temptation of political involvement usurping the priority of the gospel, I found this to be a good word.  Obviously, the American situation with its requirement of citizenship may call for a slightly different application of the gospel in our lives, but the non-interest and non-involvement of the New Testament authors in anything other than the gospel and its proclamation and application is worth considering.  --Bill

"The authors of these twenty-one letters are radically united in the proclamation of bizarre ideas. To see this, let us engage in a bit of contrastive analysis, contemplating what these authors did not do and what their letters do not advocate.

"Rome was not their kingdom, and they were not trying to make it home. They sought the city that is to come. Not one of these authors gave his life to address the systematic injustice of the Roman empire by means of political reform. Not one of these authors went the way of Josephus and sought to cozy up to the emperor, though Paul seems to have had opportunities to seek such "influence" with some high ranking officials. Not one of these officials did or said anything about trying to stop Rome from fighting its wars. Not one of them championed the idea that the government should take money from the rich and redistribute it equally to the poor, nor did they leave the ministry to advocate a government of greater fiscal responsibility, lowered taxes, and increased national security. Not one of these authors taught that the way to change the world is by initiating a universal, government-funded education program. Not one of these authors was out to make as much money as he possibly could. Not one of these authors embracedone of the popular philosophies of the day, nor did they seek to synthesize the message of Jesus with the spirit of their age. None of them advocated higher moral standards in society at large (outside the church), nor did they lobby for universal health care or a revised definition of marriage that would legitimate same-sex unions. None of them seemed to have cared whether anyone reading their letters would be perceived by the broader culture as hip, savvy, chic, or cool. They had a different program.

"These authors believed that the decisive event in the story of the world had taken place. God loved the world by sending his Son, condemned sin in the flesh of Jesus, poured out all his wrath on Jesus at the cross, and accomplished salvation through that ultimate display of justice. God raised Jesus from the dead, and Jesus commissioned his followers to make disciples by proclaiming the good news.

"how did they go about carrying out this commission? They all basically did the same thing. None appears to have sought to carry out the commission through political or educational institutions. According to the book of Acts, the simply told people, whether groups or individuals, who God is, what he had accomplished in Jesus, and what this implied for them. God accomplished salvation through judgment in Jesus and the implication for every auditor of the message is that they would either believe and be saved or disobey (be unpersuaded by) the gospel and be judged. Through the announcement of judgment, the saved rejoiced in and glorified God. The converts, those who believed the message, were gathered into congregations, churches. Paul, Peter, and James all refer to elders who led these churches."

Friday, December 17, 2010

Hymn of Instruction, Petition, and Thanks Based on the Fourth Petition of the Lord's Prayer

O Lord, You’re Very Great

To the tune: MARION “Rejoice, O Pure in Heart” ( Based on Lord’s Day 50 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 104). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
O Lord, You’re very great,
the Maker of all things.
Sustaining, ruling by Your pow’r,
You are the mighty King.

Rejoice, rejoice,
rejoice, give thanks and sing.

v. 2
Dear Father, we ask you,
as children born of grace:
O give to us our temp’ral needs,
and favor of Your face.

Rejoice, rejoice,
rejoice, give thanks and sing.

v. 3
Our Father, we depend
for ev’ry breath on You.
You give all skill and give all strength,
all thanks to You is due.

Rejoice, rejoice,
rejoice, give thanks and sing.

v. 4
Our Father, help us trust
that we are Yours in Christ,
adopted children, Jesus bought
by His own sacrifice.

Rejoice, rejoice,
rejoice, give thanks and sing.

v. 5
Your children look to You,
dear Father, please provide
the things we need in earthly life,
and with them Jesus Christ.

Rejoice, rejoice,
rejoice, give thanks and sing.

v. 6
For Jesus is true bread,
without Him hearts will die.
In Him is blessing, favor, life,
by faith we find supply.

Rejoice, rejoice,
rejoice, give thanks and sing.

Lord's Day 50

Q & A 125

Q. What does the fourth request mean?

A. "Give us today our daily bread" means,
Do take care of all our physical needs^1
so that we come to know
that you are the only source of everything good,^2
and that neither our work and worry
nor your gifts
can do us any good without your blessing.^3

And so help us to give up our trust in creatures
and to put trust in you alone.^4

^1 Ps. 104:27-30; 145:15-16; Matt. 6:25-34
^2 Acts 14:17; 17:25; James 1:17
^3 Deut. 8:3; Ps. 37:16; 127:1-2; 1 Cor. 15:58
^4 Ps. 55:22; 62; 146; Jer. 17:5-8; Heb. 13:5-6

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Hymn of Instruction and Prayer Based on Matthew 6:10

The Father Sent His Son, He Gave a Model Prayer

To the tune: SOUTHWELL ( Based on Lord’s Day 49 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 103). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
The Father sent His Son,
He gave a model prayer.
The Father’s will on earth be done,
in heaven it’s done there.

v. 2
The essence of our crime
is to reject God’s will,
to follow our own heart and eyes,
it’s this that makes us ill.

v. 3
So Father help us please,
our own wills to reject.
In heaven angels do Your will,
your beauty they reflect.

v. 4
Your will alone is good,
O Father, help us see
the glory shining in Your book,
the way that’s best for me.

v. 5
For Jesus is the way,
Your will He came to do.
The cross Your justice, grace display,
Your glory shining through.

v. 6
O Father, give us faith
to come to Your dear Son,
for faith gives glory unto You,
for grace that Jesus won.

Lord's Day 49

Q & A 124

Q. What does the third request mean?

A. "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" means,
Help us and all people
to reject our own wills
and to obey your will without any back talk.
Your will alone is good.^1

Help us one and all to carry out the work we are called to,^2
as willingly and faithfully as the angels in heaven.^3

^1 Matt. 7:21; 16:24-26; Luke 22:42; Rom. 12:1-2; Tit. 2:11-12
^2 1 Cor. 7:17-24; Eph. 6:5-9
^3 Ps. 103:20-21

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Hymn about God's Kingdom

Jesus Taught Us His Own People

To the tune: W ZLOBIE LEZY (“Infant Holy, Infant Lowly” Based on Lord’s Day 48 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 102). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
Jesus taught us His own people,
teaching us what we should pray.
Holy Father, may Your kingdom,
be our treasure all our days.
For Your Son has died and risen,
precious present, Jesus given.
He is King and Lord of all,
bend the knee and heed His call.

v. 2
Rule us by Your Word and Spirit,
more and more submit to You.
Father, keep us and protect us,
change our hearts and make them new.
Self condemning, sin repenting,
Christ believing, heart consenting.
Jesus Christ our risen King,
Praise to Him forever bring.

v. 3
Weak and sinful, we Your people,
how we need Your mercy now!
Sin confessing, give us blessing,
grace and strength our souls endow.
Jesus is a fountain flowing,
faith is drinking, faith is knowing.
Come to Jesus God’s dear Son,
let your heart by Him be won.

v. 4
God of justice, send Your judgments,
plunder forces of the foe.
For the devil seeks to murder,
stealing, killing precious souls.
Your church keeping, adding to it,
kingdom growing, by Your Spirit.
Send Your word that justifies,
turn from sin and turn to Christ.

Lord's Day 48

Q & A 123

Q. What does the second request mean?

A. "Your kingdom come" means,
Rule us by your Word and Spirit in such a way
that more and more we submit to you.^1

Keep your church strong, and add to it.^2

Destroy the devil's work;
destroy every force which revolts against you
and every conspiracy against your Word.^3

Do this until your kingdom is so complete and perfect
that in it you are
all in all.^4

^1 Ps. 119:5, 105; 143:10; Matt. 6:33
^2 Ps. 122:6-9; Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:42-47
^3 Rom. 16:20; 1 John 3:8
^4 Rom. 8:22-23; 1 Cor. 15:28; Rev. 22:17, 20

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Hymn of Prayer Based on a Petition from the Lord's Prayer

This song is mainly a song of prayer, although there are also elements of praise, confession, and instruction interspersed throughout.

Help Us, O God, to Really Know and Love You

To the tune: FINLANDI (Be Still My Soul Based on Lord’s Day 47 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 101). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
Help us, O God, to really know and love You,
for all Your works to bless and praise Your name.
For Jesus taught Your precious name to hallow,
direct our ways that we may spread Your fame.
O Father, give the Spirit for we need You,
Your name to praise and live our lives anew.

v. 2
Help us reflect Your name, O holy Father,
help us to see Your glory in Your Word,
to see Christ’s face, the knowledge of Your glory,
Your Spirit send to open up Your Word.
O Jesus, give the Spirit for we need You,
Your name to praise and live our lives anew.

v. 3
Your works shine forth Your power, wisdom, kindness.
Your name conveys Your justice, truth and grace.
You are Creator and You are Redeemer,
in these Your works Your glory do we trace.
O God triune, help us to really know You,
to bear Your name and glory to pursue.

v. 4
One day this world will be filled with Your glory,
and Jesus’ name renowned throughout the earth.
So give us grace to honor You in living,
to spread Your name and seek Your kingdom first.
O Father, help Your children for we need grace,
and give us hearts to hallow Your great name.

Lord's Day 47

Q & A 122

Q. What does the first request mean?

A. "Hallowed be your name" means,
Help us to really know you,^1
to bless, worship, and praise you
for all your works
and for all that shines forth from them:
your almighty power, wisdom, kindness,
justice, mercy, and truth.^2

And it means,
Help us to direct all our living—
what we think, say, and do—
so that your name will never be blasphemed because of us
but always honored and praised.^3

^1 Jer. 9:23-24; 31:33-34; Matt. 16:17; John 17:3
^2 Ex. 34:5-8; Ps. 145; Jer. 32:16-20; Luke 1:46-55, 68-75; Rom. 11:33-36
^3 Ps. 115:1; Matt. 5:16

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Song about Prayer

Bless’d We Are to Call God Father

To the tune: Come Ye Sinners --- music by Matthew Smith ( Based on Lord’s Day 46 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 100). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
Bless’d we are to call God, Father,
we who once were far from God,
living under wrath and judgment,
broken law, condemned we stood.
We have favor, we have blessing,
For our judgment Jesus took.

v. 2
Pray to God who is our Father,
give Him trust and rev’rent fear.
For in Christ He dearly loves us,
prayers in faith will surely hear.
He’s our Father, high in heaven,
He will answer so draw near.

v. 3
Fathers give us earthly blessings,
don’t refuse to give good things.
How much more the heav’nly Father,
Spirit gives to His offspring.
He has given, ev’ry blessing.
Give Him praise and to Him sing.

v. 4
Fear your Father, great in heaven.
Trust Him for He’s tender too.
Fear and trust, the right demeanor,
when His glory is in view.
He is holy, full of mercy.
In His love takes care of you.

Lord's Day 46

Q & A 120

Q. Why did Christ command us
to call God "our Father"?

A. At the very beginning of our prayer
Christ wants to kindle in us
what is basic to our prayer—
the childlike awe and trust
that God through Christ has become
our Father.

Our fathers do not refuse us
the things of this life;
God our Father will even less refuse to give us
what we ask in faith.^1

^1 Matt. 7:9-11; Luke 11:11-13

A Song that Teaches about Prayer and Praise

Why Do Christians Need to Offer?

To the tune: (from the RUF Hymnbook “Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder” (Taylor) Based on Lord’s Day 45 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 98). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
Why do Christians need to offer
prayers unto their gracious Lord?
Praise and thanks are due unto Him,
for His love to us outpoured.
He has sent His only Son,
He has sent His only Son,
He has sent His only Son,
His redeeming work is done.

v. 2
Why do Christians need to offer
prayers unto their Father God?
Christ the vine and we the branches,
life and vigor for our walk.
Jesus Christ is all we need,
Jesus Christ is all we need,
Jesus Christ is all we need,
for His grace and Spirit plead.

v. 3
Why do Christians need to offer
prayers of praise and humble need?
God triune is great, majestic,
in His glory do we see:
all our sin and all our need,
all our sin and all our need,
all our sin and all our need,
Jesus, for us intercede.

v. 4
Even though we don’t deserve it,
let us bring our prayers to God.
God will surely listen to us,
Jesus washed us with His blood.
He has promised in His Word,
He has promised in His Word,
He has promised in His Word,
in Christ’s name will we be heard.

v. 5
Why do Christians need to offer
our own bodies to the Lord?
In response to God’s great mercy,
God triune by us adored:
Let us give ourselves to Christ,
let us give ourselves to Christ,
let us give ourselves to Christ,
for His precious sacrifice.

Lord's Day 45

Q & A 116

Q. Why do Christians need to pray?

A. Because prayer is the most important part
of the thankfulness God requires of us.^1

And also because God gives his grace and Holy Spirit
only to those who pray continually and groan inwardly,
asking God for these gifts
and thanking him for them.^2

^1 Ps. 50:14-15; 116:12-19; 1 Thess. 5:16-18
^2 Matt. 7:7-8; Luke 11:9-13

Q & A 117

Q. How does God want us to pray
so that he will listen to us?

A. First, we must pray from the heart
to no other than the one true God,
who has revealed himself in his Word,
asking for everything he has commanded us to ask for.^1

Second, we must acknowledge our need and misery,
hiding nothing,
and humble ourselves in his majestic presence.^2

Third, we must rest on this unshakable foundation:
even though we do not deserve it,
God will surely listen to our prayer
because of Christ our Lord.
That is what he promised us in his Word.^3

^1 Ps. 145:18-20; John 4:22-24; Rom. 8:26-27; James 1:5; 1 John 5:14-15
^2 2 Chron. 7:14; Ps. 2:11; 34:18; 62:8; Isa. 66:2; Rev. 4
^3 Dan. 9:17-19; Matt. 7:8; John 14:13-14; 16:23; Rom. 10:13; James 1:6

Q & A 118

Q. What did God command us to pray for?

A. Everything we need, spiritually and physically,^1
as embraced in the prayer
Christ our Lord himself taught us.

^1 James 1:17; Matt. 6:33

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Meditation on the Scribes and Pharisees

Mark 7:1-8 (English Standard Version)

1 Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, 2they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3(For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) 5And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, "Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?" 6And he said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,

"'This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
7in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'
8You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men."


Did the Pharisees Love the Lord?

Mark 7:1-8 was the passage yesterday for our pastor’s sermon. His sermon raised an interesting point: Did the Pharisees and scribes love the Lord?

Often times, ministers will present the Pharisees as though they were orthodox theologians, who believed all the right things. Their only “little” problem was that they didn’t get the Jesus question right!

The problem with this theory, however, is that the Jesus question is the all important question! Jesus is the Lord-incarnate---He was Yahweh in human flesh! Since the Pharisees and the scribes hated Jesus and were plotting to murder him, I think it’s fair to say that the Pharisees and scribes did not love the Lord! The proof is in how they treated the Lord when He showed up in their midst in fulfillment of Scripture!

A Christian, by definition, then, is just the opposite of a Pharisee. A Christian is someone who has received and welcomed Jesus as the incarnate Lord, fully God and fully man in one person. Jesus is the Old Testament Lord, who came to earth in our human nature. In order to be a Christian, one must accept the person and work of Jesus Christ, and the Pharisees were not willing to accept His person or His work. When the Lord showed up they hated Him, which is just the opposite of the trust and love Christians have for Jesus their Lord.

But the Pharisees and scribes not only hated Jesus’ person, but they also hated Jesus’ work. Jesus came to save sinners, but the Pharisees self-righteously claimed not to be sinners! The Pharisees were so busy establishing their own righteousness via works, that they missed the righteousness of God that comes by faith to the person who believes in Jesus.

Two Possible Paths to God’s Favor and Blessing

There are only two possible paths to God’s blessing and favor. One way is to get God’s favor by being a good person and doing good deeds. There are two problems with this path, however. The first problem is that God’s justice and holiness will not allow a single failure. God does not grade on the curve. God must judge sin to maintain his justice. The second problem is that no person born after Adam has ever come close to being a truly good person who always lives for the glory of God. All of us have broken the Ten Commandment numerous times, and our inward being is inclined toward the love of self, not the love of God.

The only path for sinners that actually brings sinners to God is the path of faith in the Son of God’s work on the cross on our behalf. Only by condemning ourselves as sinners, who deserve only God’s judgment and wrath, and then looking to the grace and mercy Jesus earned for us by bearing our sin, can we enter into God’s blessing and favor. All other paths we devise are dead ends that lead us to the same sad situation of the Pharisees and scribes, who by seeking to establish their own righteousness by good works, actually came to hate and murder the Lord they said they worshipped!

The path of good works to earn God’s favor is a dead end that actually leads us to estrangement with, and hatred of, God! The true path into the favor and blessing of God is to judge ourselves in the light of God’s glorious law, and then embrace his justifying, life-giving gospel by faith. And, this is a path we must walk each day of our lives. It is a humble, self-deprecating path, but it leads us to love for the triune God and his glory.

Guarding Against the Idolatry of the Pharisees

The Pharisees did not love the Lord. Instead the Pharisees hated the Lord, as their treatment of Jesus showed. But if the Pharisees hated Jesus, then what did they love? If the Pharisees and scribes were guilty of false and vain worship (v. 7), then what did they truly worship? What did they trust and love more than the Lord --- more than Jesus?

Our pastor pointed us to Matthew 23:25-28. These verses give us some clues as to what they truly worshipped:
25 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

27 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
First, they were greedy, and this can be seen in Matthew 23:25. Greed can be for money or sex or power or reputation, but these were some of the idols of the Pharisees, according to Jesus. The apostle Paul calls greed idolatry in Colossians 3:5.

Second, the Pharisees had a problem with the worship of self/man. In verse 27 Jesus accuses them of being lawless. Instead of following the Lord’s Word, they followed their own word! This is Jesus’ point in Mark 4:7-8. They trusted in the word and understanding of men more than they did in God’s Word. Another way of saying it is that they worshipped tradition.

Third, their worship was false. This is the accusation Jesus makes in Mark 4:6-8. The scribes and Pharisees were not the true worshippers the Father seeks (John 4:23). Their worship was false or hypocritical because they simply went through the motions without truly giving their hearts to God. The New Testament describes true worship as offering ourselves to God in response to God’s mercy (Romans 12:1). If we come to church but don’t offer ourselves to the Lord, then our worship is false. If we say we love Jesus but live for idols, then our worship is false, and we need to repent and come to the Lord for mercy.

These idols and the false worship of the Pharisees and scribes are certainly things which Christians need to guard against. As John warns his fellow believers, so the Spirit continues to warn us: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).

Here is the beginning of my post. And here is the rest of it.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Hymn about Jesus' Infinite Worth

We live in a society, and even a church, where God could be described as weightless.  I suppose this "weightless God" is the symptom of our sinful, blind hearts, which fail to comprehend the infinite glory of the triune God, who saves through judgment for His glory.  I wrote these words as I considered my own lack of recognition of our Lord's infinite worth.  --Bill

Jesus Our Treasure

To the tune: RESTORATION ( Based on the tenth commandment and Lord’s Day 44 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 79-81). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
Jesus our treasure,
help us remember
Your holy passion,
Your gracious mission.
Dying You bought us,
rising you brought us
unto Your Father,
unto Your home.

v. 2
Guard us from idols,
one thing is needful:
feeding on Jesus,
for He is wondrous.
May we not covet,
Your glory, love it.
Jesus our treasure,
Jesus our all.

v. 3
Keep us contented,
Jesus descended,
for our salvation
and liberation.
Greed is an idol,
makes sad and troubled.
Father, make joyful
through Jesus Christ.

v. 4
Made for Your glory,
Jesus the story
of all His people,
who take His counsel.
Jesus our treasure,
no one can measure
glory eternal,
glory divine.

A Hymn about Law and Gospel

God’s Law Is Strict and Holy

To the tune: RUTHERFORD ( Based on Lord’s Day 44 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 78-83, 35). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
God’s law is strict and holy,
condemning all our sin;
reflects His holy nature,
exposes sin within.
The law requires perfection,
the Lord your God to love:
a heart that hates sin’s nature,
desires the Lord above.

v. 2
The law cannot make holy,
it cannot pardon sin.
The law can only show us
pollution deep within.
The law is meant to drive us
into the arms of Christ.
For He alone can save us,
His cross a sacrifice.

v. 3
So come unto the Savior,
who died upon the tree,
and trust His grace and mercy
that Jesus earned for thee.
His gospel calls you to Him,
to come receive His grace,
to trust in His forgiveness,
to walk before His face.

v. 4
The law is weak and feeble,
it can’t give strength to live.
The law can’t join to Jesus,
or knit our hearts with His.
The gospel is the power,
to Jesus it unites,
the Spirit given to us,
the law within He writes.

v. 5
Only a small beginning
in this life do we make:
resolving Christ to follow,
yet His commands we break.
But still we strive to follow
all that the Lord commands.
A life of faith, repentance
until the promised land.

Lord's Day 44

Q & A 113

Q. What is God's will for you
in the tenth commandment?

A. That not even the slightest thought or desire
contrary to any one of God's commandments
should ever arise in my heart.
Rather, with all my heart
I should always hate sin
and take pleasure in whatever is right.^1

^1 Ps. 19:7-14; 139:23-24; Rom. 7:7-8

Q & A 114

Q. But can those converted to God
obey these commandments perfectly?

A. No.
In this life even the holiest
have only a small beginning of this obedience.^1
Nevertheless, with all seriousness of purpose,
they do begin to live
according to all, not only some,
of God's commandments.^2

^1 Eccles. 7:20; Rom. 7:14-15; 1 Cor. 13:9; 1 John 1:8-10
^2 Ps. 1:1-2; Rom. 7:22-25; Phil. 3:12-16

Q & A 115

Q. No one in this life
can obey the Ten Commandments perfectly:
why then does God want them
preached so pointedly?

A. First, so that the longer we live
the more we may come to know our sinfulness
and the more eagerly look to Christ
for forgiveness of sins and righteousness.^1

Second, so that,
while praying to God for the grace of the Holy Spirit,
we may never stop striving
to be renewed more and more after God's image,
until after this life we reach our goal:

^1 Ps. 32:5; Rom. 3:19-26; 7:7, 24-25; 1 John 1:9
^2 1 Cor. 9:24; Phil. 3:12-14; 1 John 3:1-3

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A New Hymn Based on the Ninth Commandment and Lord's Day 43 of the Heidelberg Catechism

O Lord, Your Will is that I Love Your Truth

To the tune: ELLACOMBE ( Based on the ninth commandment and Lord’s Day 43 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 76-77). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
O Lord, Your will is that I love
Your truth to us revealed;
to love Your Word which is the truth,
in love my heart to yield.
For Jesus is incarnate truth,
and shows us who You are.
Both grace and truth revealed in Him,
the coming morning star.

v. 2
A stubborn will rejects Your truth,
so circumcise my heart;
and give me love to follow Christ,
from Jesus ne’er depart.
His truth will set us free from sin,
so help us to abide,
to learn of Your most holy Word,
in Jesus to reside.

v. 3
O help me, Lord, to speak the truth,
avoiding all deceit.
For You are holy, just and true,
Your truth is what I seek.
The devil lies to steal and kill,
his purpose to destroy.
But Jesus shows us God triune,
to honor and enjoy.

v. 4
Help us our neighbor’s name advance,
to speak in love the truth.
Your image bearers to respect,
and not dishonor You.
Come soon, O Lord, to judge and save,
on earth Your glory fill.
For, Lord, Your name is glorious,
and bless’d Your heav’nly will.

v. 5
We praise Your name, ’tis glorious,
the name of highest worth.
You sent Your Son in grace and truth,
Your glory came to earth.
Help us, O Christ, Your name to love,
help us advance Your fame,
to bear Your image ev’rywhere,
and make Your praise our aim.

Lord's Day 43

Q & A 112

Q. What is God's will for you
in the ninth commandment?

A. God's will is that I
never give false testimony against anyone,
twist no one's words,
not gossip or slander,
nor join in condemning anyone
without a hearing or without a just cause.^1

Rather, in court and everywhere else,
I should avoid lying and deceit of every kind;
these are devices the devil himself uses,
and they would call down on me God's intense anger.^2
I should love the truth,
speak it candidly,
and openly acknowledge it.^3
And I should do what I can
to guard and advance my neighbor's good name.^4

^1 Ps. 15; Prov. 19:5; Matt. 7:1; Luke 6:37; Rom. 1:28-32
^2 Lev. 19:11-12; Prov. 12:22; 13:5; John 8:44; Rev. 21:8
^3 1 Cor. 13:6; Eph. 4:25
^4 1 Pet. 3:8-9; 4:8

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Jesus Christ: Supernatural Bread for Weary Pilgrims --- Psalm 111

Psalm 111

Great Are the LORD’s Works

1 Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
2Great are the works of the LORD,
studied by all who delight in them.
3 Full of splendor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.
4He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;
the LORD is gracious and merciful.
5He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.
6He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the inheritance of the nations.
7The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy;
8they are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
9He sent redemption to his people;
he has commanded his covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is his name!
10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever!


Psalm 111 is an acrostic poem, which means that each line of the poem begins with the successive letter from the Hebrew alphabet. The fact that the psalmists would use things like acrostics, points to the literary design that is found in the Psalms.

Chiasm is another device that biblical writers often used. Chiasm involves the repetition of ideas so that there are matching parts in the psalm. This explains why the line of thought in the psalms sometimes seems disjointed to us. We are reading a chiasm, but are not perceptive enough to realize the chiastic structure.

Although this is just an amateur analysis, I would analyze Psalm 111 as a chiasm that culminates in a central section which is emphasized. While there is some overlap of ideas between the verses, here is my division of Psalm 111:

v. 1a and v. 10b: Praise of the Lord is our purpose:

1a: 1 Praise the LORD!
10 b: His praise endures forever!

v. 1b-3 and v9-10a: A right response to the works of the Lord and His character.

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
2Great are the works of the LORD,
studied by all who delight in them.
3 Full of splendor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.

9He sent redemption to his people;
he has commanded his covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is his name!
10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.

v. 4 and v. 6-8: We know the works and character of the Lord through His Word.

4He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;
the LORD is gracious and merciful.

6He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the inheritance of the nations.
7The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy;
8they are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.

Finally, in the center of the psalm, and the position of emphasis is verse 5: v. 5: The Lord provides heavenly food for those in covenant relationship with Him.

5He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.

Why do I say that the food in verse 5 is heavenly food? For a couple of reasons. First, the Lord provides food for even people outside of a covenant relationship with Him. If this is the case, then the food provided for his covenant people must be more than the mere earthly food that all people receive. Second, from the New Testament we learn that the bread Jesus provides His people is Himself! Jesus is the bread sent from heaven! Each time we open the Word and Christ is offered to us in Word and sacrament, heavenly, supernatural bread is offered to us. The bread is Jesus Christ given to us for forgiveness and strength.

When we consider the two verses around verse 5, we learn how this bread is for both grace and strength:
4He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;
the LORD is gracious and merciful.

6He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the inheritance of the nations.
Old Testament Israel’s inheritance was the land of the nations in Palestine. But our inheritance under the new covenant is in the heavenly realms with our Lord Jesus Christ. He is our inheritance, He is our food, and we eat of Him. Here is where true strength and power lie! If we learn to feed on Jesus Christ by faith, we will have strength for this pilgrim life we live as we make our way to heaven and the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As the people of God who belong to Jesus Christ, there is a reason why Word and sacrament ought to be at the center of our worship. We are pilgrims on this earth. This world is not our true home. We need forgiveness and strength as we live in the world. Only Jesus Christ, the Bread that was given for us, can bring us the forgiveness and strength we need on our journey. The Bread we receive is supernatural bread. It is heavenly bread. It is the bread that can alone satisfy our souls.

Four points of application, I would bring out.

1. The Bread, Jesus Christ, comes to us through both Word and sacrament. Both the Word and the visible Word (sacraments) offer us the same Christ. But the Word has a priority over the sacrament, because the Word can exist by itself, but a sacrament cannot exist without the Word.

2. Both Word and sacrament should be offered to us each Sunday. Even though the Reformation emphasized the Word above the sacraments, this does not mean that we should not observe the Lord’s Supper each Lord’s Day. When Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me,” He was alluding to the “remembrance” of the Sabbath, which was weekly. Protestant churches have erred in not giving Jesus Christ in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper each Sunday.

3. When we go to church, we should seek to feed on Christ by faith. First and foremost, this is what our gatherings are about. God in His grace offers His Son to us in Word and sacrament. As we journey through this world, only Christ the Bread of heaven can bring us the grace and strength we need for this journey.

4. We can feed on Christ each day. While there is something special that takes place when we meet together, for Christ promises to meet us in a special way when we meet as a body, still, through our time with Christ each day in the Word, we can eat of Him by faith. Thus, each day our “[Lord] provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.”

Friday, November 19, 2010

A New Hymn Based on the Eighth Commandment and Lord's Day 42 of the Heidelberg Catechism

The Eighth Command, You Shall Not Steal

To the tune: PUER NOBIS ( Based on the eighth commandment and Lord’s Day 42 of the Heidelberg Catechism (Related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 74-75). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
The eighth command, you shall not steal,
with all your neighbors fairly deal.
Do all you can to meet his need,
and keep your heart from selfish greed.

v. 2
Be honest in all that you do,
and live by Jesus’ golden rule:
Treat others as you’d like them to
treat you in all they say and do.

v. 3
The eighth command forbids all greed,
for Jesus came so we’d be freed.
In Christ we’re freed to trust and love,
not things of earth, but God above.

v. 4
The heart is where our treasure lay.
All earthly treasures pass away,
but there’s a treasure that will last,
His name is Jesus, hold Him fast.

v. 5
To God triune all glory due,
but sinful man did steal from You.
Your glory, honor did we take
in foolish pride to take Your place.

v. 6
Let God be God, His place not take.
All idols in your heart forsake.
For idols vain will fade away,
but Christ our treasure now, always.

Lord's Day 42

Q & A 110

Q. What does God forbid
in the eighth commandment?

A. He forbids not only outright theft and robbery,
punishable by law.^1
But in God's sight theft also includes
cheating and swindling our neighbor
by schemes made to appear legitimate,^2
such as:
inaccurate measurements of weight, size, or volume;
fraudulent merchandising;
counterfeit money;
excessive interest;
or any other means forbidden by God.^3
In addition he forbids all greed^4
and pointless squandering of his gifts.^5

^1 Ex. 22:1; 1 Cor. 5:9-10; 6:9-10
^2 Mic. 6:9-11; Luke 3:14; James 5:1-6
^3 Deut. 25:13-16; Ps. 15:5; Prov. 11:1; 12:22; Ezek. 45:9-12; Luke 6:35
^4 Luke 12:15; Eph. 5:5
^5 Prov. 21:20; 23:20-21; Luke 16:10-13

Q & A 111

Q. What does God require of you
in this commandment?

A. That I do whatever I can
for my neighbor's good,
that I treat others
as I would like them to treat me,
and that I work faithfully
so that I may share with those in need.^1

^1 Isa. 58:5-10; Matt. 7:12; Gal. 6:9-10; Eph. 4:28

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A New Hymn Based on the Seventh Commandment and Lord's Day 41 of the Heidelberg Catechism

Christ Did Redeem You with His Blood

To the tune: BISHOP ( Based on the seventh commandment and Lord’s Day 41 of the Heidelberg Catechism (Related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 70-72). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
Christ did redeem you with His blood,
His costly death has purchased you.
Belonging now to Christ your Lord,
you are His temple chaste and true.

v. 2
God’s will for you is purity,
your body, soul to Him belong.
So keep it clean, to Christ be true.
He’s your delight, your joy your song.

v. 3
Jesus in love for us did die,
our heav’nly husband for His bride.
In love He washed us, water, Word,
and sent His Spirit to reside.

v. 4
The Lord’s commands are wise and true,
and number seven’s best for you.
So do not argue ’gainst His will,
cling to your Lord who blesses you.

v. 5
Marriage is good, designed by God,
the union of a man and wife.
Pictures for us the myst’ry great,
Jesus Christ’s union with His bride.

Lord's Day 41

Q & A 108

Q. What is God's will for us
in the seventh commandment?

A. God condemns all unchastity.^1
We should therefore thoroughly detest it^2
and, married or single,
live decent and chaste lives.^3

^1 Lev. 18:30; Eph. 5:3-5
^2 Jude 22-23
^3 1 Cor. 7:1-9; 1 Thess. 4:3-8; Heb. 13:4

Q & A 109

Q. Does God, in this commandment,
forbid only such scandalous sins as adultery?

A. We are temples of the Holy Spirit, body and soul,
and God wants both to be kept clean and holy.
That is why he forbids
everything which incites unchastity,^1
whether it be actions, looks, talk, thoughts, or desires.^2

^1 1 Cor. 15:33; Eph. 5:18
^2 Matt. 5:27-29; 1 Cor. 6:18-20; Eph. 5:3-4

A New Hymn Based on the Sixth Commandment and Lord's Day 40 of the Heidelberg Catechism

You Shall Not Murder, God’s Command

To the tune: OLD HUNDREDTH (altered) ( Based on the sixth commandment and Lord’s Day 40 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 67-69). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
You shall not murder, God’s command,
for love’s His heart, His plan for man.
Three persons dwell in perfect love,
by faith we share His love above.

v. 2
He sent His Son a sacrifice,
for guilty sinners gave us Christ.
What love is this beyond compare?
Our sin and shame He came to bear.

v. 3
So put off all that hinders love,
and put on Him who reigns above.
Put off all envy, hate and strife.
Put on the clothing of our Christ.

v. 4
Forgive as God in Christ forgives,
to intercede He ever lives.
Forgiving all our lack of love,
His precious blood avails above.

v. 5
O Spirit come and melt our hearts,
O flood and soften inward parts.
We need to taste of the new age,
so give us Christ through sacred page.

Lord's Day 40

Q & A 105

Q. What is God's will for you
in the sixth commandment?

A. I am not to belittle, insult, hate, or kill my neighbor—
not by my thoughts, my words, my look or gesture,
and certainly not by actual deeds—
and I am not to be party to this in others;^1
rather, I am to put away all desire for revenge.^2
I am not to harm or recklessly endanger myself either.^3
Prevention of murder is also why
government is armed with the sword.^4

^1 Gen. 9:6; Lev. 19:17-18; Matt. 5:21-22; 26:52
^2 Prov. 25:21-22; Matt. 18:35; Rom. 12:19; Eph. 4:26
^3 Matt. 4:7; 26:52; Rom. 13:11-14
^4 Gen. 9:6; Ex. 21:14; Rom. 13:4

Q & A 106

Q. Does this commandment refer only to killing?

A. By forbidding murder God teaches us
that he hates the root of murder:
envy, hatred, anger, vindictiveness.^1
In God's sight all such are murder.^2

^1 Prov. 14:30; Rom. 1:29; 12:19; Gal. 5:19-21; 1 John 2:9-11
^2 1 John 3:15

Q & A 107

Q. Is it enough then
that we do not kill our neighbor
in any such way?

A. No.
By condemning envy, hatred, and anger
God tells us
to love our neighbors as ourselves,^1
to be patient, peace-loving, gentle,
merciful, and friendly to them,^2
to protect them from harm as much as we can,
and to do good even to our enemies.^3

^1 Matt. 7:12; 22:39; Rom. 12:10
^2 Matt. 5:3-12; Luke 6:36; Rom. 12:10, 18; Gal. 6:1-2; Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:12; 1 Pet. 3:8
^3 Ex. 23:4-5; Matt. 5:44-45; Rom. 12:20-21 (Prov. 25:21-22)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Learning about Christian Worship in Psalm 110

Psalm 110 (English Standard Version)

Sit at My Right Hand

A Psalm of David.

1 The LORD says to my Lord:
"Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool."

2The LORD sends forth from Zion
your mighty scepter.
Rule in the midst of your enemies!
3 Your people will offer themselves freely
on the day of your power,
in holy garments;
from the womb of the morning,
the dew of your youth will be yours.
4 The LORD has sworn
and will not change his mind,
"You are a priest forever
after the order of Melchizedek."

5The Lord is at your right hand;
he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
6He will execute judgment among the nations,
filling them with corpses;
he will shatter chiefs
over the wide earth.
7He will drink from the brook by the way;
therefore he will lift up his head.


This psalm makes two predictions about the future Messiah. He will be the Lord raised to the right hand of God (v. 1). He will be a priest forever (v. 4). In Jesus Christ these two Old Testament offices of king and priest come together.

It was unusual in Israel for a king to also be a priest. Hezekiah, for example, was struck with leprosy when he tried to perform the role reserved for priests alone. But this psalm and other places in the Old Testament point to the future Messiah as holding both the office of king and priest.

King David, while not a priest, did much to order the worship of the temple. He appointed singers, wrote psalms, and was much involved in the liturgy of the temple worship. In these things he foreshadowed Jesus, who enables and directs the worship of his people.

As I’ve meditated on Psalm 110, I’ve considered what this psalm might teach us about the new covenant worship that Jesus enables and directs as our King and Priest:

1. Worship is offering ourselves to Jesus Christ. Verse 3 says:
"Your people will offer themselves freely
on the day of your power,
in holy garments;"
In response to the death and resurrection of Jesus, and his ascension to the right hand of the Father, there is only one right response, namely, to offer ourselves to Him. When we consider what Jesus has done for us through his death and resurrection, thanks and praise should flow from us. But more than offering words of praise and thanks, we offer our lives to Him, to follow Him and do His will.

This is simply to repeat what Romans 12:1 says of true worship:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

2. Worship is by the Spirit of God. Christ’s people offer themselves freely “on the day of [his] power.” That day, according to the New Testament, was his enthronement at the Father’s right hand, which resulted in the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. Because of our sinful nature, we resist giving our hearts to the Lord. Only the Spirit can cure this resistance and make us willing to do God’s will.

3. Worship is Word-centered. It is clear that Christ rules his people (v. 2). His enemies resist that rule, but His people accept his rule:
"The LORD sends forth from Zion
your mighty scepter.
Rule in the midst of your enemies!"
To accept Christ’s rule is to accept his will. But how do we come to know His will? The answer is God’s Word. There is a reason why beginning in Old Testament times both the Law and the Prophets were read each Sabbath to the gathered people. There is a reason why the new covenant church did not abandon this practice, but added to it readings from the Gospels and Epistles. The reason for the public reading of God’s Word is so that we would know the will of the One who died and rose and now rules. Worship is not only in Spirit, but it is also in truth, and the truth is learned through the Word of God.

4. Worship is only possible through the priesthood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The whole world stands guilty before the holy God. Sin has brought a deserved judgment to the human race. This is clear from verses 5-6:
5The Lord is at your right hand;
he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
6He will execute judgment among the nations,
filling them with corpses;
he will shatter chiefs
over the wide earth.
Why are the people who belong to Jesus Christ exempted from this judgment? The answer is that we have come by repentance and faith to the One who is a “priest forever” (v. 4). This priest is also the sacrifice for our sins. This priest took away the judgment we deserved, through his suffering on the cross. This priest cleanses our guilty conscience and gives us forgiveness and favor through his death on our behalf.

But this priest does still more. He clothes us in “holy garments” (v. 3), covering us, justifying us, with his own righteousness. He takes even our good works and worship, which are imperfect, sin-stained, and by his intercession as our high priest, he makes these things an acceptable offering before his Father, for He is the perfect worshiper.

5. Worship is heavenly around the throne of God, where Jesus has been exalted to the right hand of the Father.

We worship where Jesus is at, and Jesus is the exalted God-man at the right hand of the Father. This is why during the historic Christian liturgy we have said these words:
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
The Spirit who can be both in heaven and on earth indwelling our hearts, lifts us to heaven by faith, where we worship the Father and the Son. Yes, we gather together each Lord’s Day with other believers at an earthly location. But if we truly worship in Spirit, then something more mysterious is taking place. We are already by faith worshiping in the heavenly realm, and tasting of the age to come. Such is the glory of new covenant worship.

6. Finally, if we truly understood where our worship was taking place, how careful, how reverent and how joyful our worship together would be.

What we do together on Sundays is hard to overstate. We are worshiping the triune God in the heavenly realms. Such a privilege cannot be taken lightly, but must be taken with great reverence, joy, and care. We must seek only to say and sing and act only in ways that please our King and are in accordance with His will. He is worthy.

7. Finally (once again!), worship takes place not just on the Lord’s Day with fellow believers, but every day of our lives. This verse cannot merely be restricted to a worship service on Sunday:
"Your people will offer themselves freely
on the day of your power,
in holy garments;"
We live in “the day of [Christ’s] power,” but that day covers all of the time from Pentecost until His second coming. We can’t take days off, and the real test of our lives comes Monday through Saturday, because we live in the midst of men and women who are hostile to our faith (v. 1). This does not mean we should be hostile to them! but it does mean that living in the overlap of this age and the age to come is not easy. The only way forward is to trust and depend on our great crucified and resurrected King as we seek to worship and honor him in all we desire, think, say, and do each day of our lives.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A New Song about the Fifth Commandment Based on Lord's Day 39 Heidelberg Catechism

The Fifth Commandment, Lord Help Me to Keep

To the tune: SLANE (Be Thou My Vision Based on the fifth commandment and Lord’s Day 39 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 63-66). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
The fifth commandment, Lord, help me to keep,
my father, mother their welfare to seek.
Help me to honor, as given to You,
for You did give them and through them You rule.

v. 2
To honor parents is to honor God,
though they correct me and must use the rod.
Lord, when corrected please help me obey,
patiently loving to honor Your name.

v. 3
The God in heaven sent into the world,
His Son beloved came not with a sword.
He came to honor His Father above,
His cup of suff’ring, He drank it in love.

v. 4
Forgive us Father for not hon’ring You.
Those in authority represent You.
Give to us pardon for all our proud sins,
and give Your Spirit, work meekness within.

Lord's Day 39

Q & A 104

Q. What is God's will for you
in the fifth commandment?

A. That I honor, love, and be loyal to
my father and mother
and all those in authority over me;
that I obey and submit to them, as is proper,
when they correct and punish me;^1
and also that I be patient with their failings—^2
for through them God chooses to rule us.^3

^1 Ex. 21:17; Prov. 1:8; 4:1; Rom. 13:1-2; Eph. 5:21-22; 6:1-9; Col. 3:18- 4:1
^2 Prov. 20:20; 23:22; 1 Pet. 2:18
^3 Matt. 22:21; Rom. 13:1-8; Eph. 6:1-9; Col. 3:18-21

A New Song about the Fourth Commandment

Remember the Sabbath for Worship and Rest

To the tune: AWAY IN A MANGER ( Based on the fourth commandment and Lord’s Day 38 of the Heidelberg Catechism. Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
Remember the Sabbath
for worship and rest.
For Jesus was buried,
on that day He slept.
The next day He rose up
and made a new day,
so give to Him honor,
for He is the way.

v. 2
So gather together
on Jesus Christ’s day,
to learn what He teaches,
feed on Him by faith.
For He is your teacher,
so open His Word.
Hear Jesus your Savior,
your God and your Lord.

v. 3
And gather together
with Christ’s holy church.
His gospel has found them,
the Shepherd's kind search.
As brothers and sisters
redeemed from the curse,
give off’rings to Jesus
and His praise rehearse.

v. 4
Remember the Sabbath
each day of your life.
The Spirit works in you,
and joins you to Christ.
For Jesus has raised you
to share life anew.
You are His creation,
His honor pursue.

Lord's Day 38

Q & A 103

Q. What is God's will for you
in the fourth commandment?

A. First,
that the gospel ministry and education for it be maintained,^1
and that, especially on the festive day of rest,
I regularly attend the assembly of God's people^2
to learn what God's Word teaches,^3
to participate in the sacraments,^4
to pray to God publicly,^5
and to bring Christian offerings for the poor.^6

that every day of my life
I rest from my evil ways,
let the Lord work in me through his Spirit,
and so begin already in this life
the eternal Sabbath.^7

^1 Deut. 6:4-9, 20-25; 1 Cor. 9:13-14; 2 Tim. 2:2; 3:13-17; Tit. 1:5
^2 Deut. 12:5-12; Ps. 40:9-10; 68:26; Acts 2:42-47; Heb. 10:23-25
^3 Rom. 10:14-17; 1 Cor. 14:31-32; 1 Tim. 4:13
^4 1 Cor. 11:23-25
^5 Col. 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:1
^6 Ps. 50:14; 1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 8 & 9
^7 Isa. 66:23; Heb. 4:9-11

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lausanne III, women preachers and the road to nowhere! - Reformation21 Blog

Lausanne III, women preachers and the road to nowhere! - Reformation21 Blog

Another troubling sign of unfaithfulness to the Lord and His Word.

Articles > 72: Rohring down the Rails toward a Fuller Evangelicalism > truthXChange

Articles > 72: Rohring down the Rails toward a Fuller Evangelicalism > truthXChange

This article by Dr. Peter Jones is shocking.  Willow Creek and Fuller Seminary are not exactly bastions of theological orthodoxy, but when they join hands with Franciscan priests in order to learn mystical, contemplative, and feminist spirituality, then we are in big trouble.  This is why we need to return to the content of our creeds and confessions and begin to teach this content to our people in our liturgies and in our sermons.  The heart of the Heidelberg Catechism is the person and work of Jesus received by faith so that He becomes our only comfort in life and in death.

A Hymn about God's Name

You Shall Not Take His Name in Vain

To the tune: How Great the Father’s Love for Us by Keith Getty ( Based on the third commandment and Lord’s Day 36 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 53-56). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
You shall not take His name in vain,
God’s name is good and holy.
So rev’rence give unto the Lord,
the Lord’s your portion truly.
His name it stands for all He is,
His works and ways are perfect.
So honor Him in all you do,
and to His will be subject.

v. 2
God sent His Son into the world,
His name had been dishonored.
The world was guilty in its sin,
His name had not been treasured.
So Jesus came and honored it,
and showed to us the Father,
and went in love unto the cross
to pay for guilty sinners.

v. 3
O sinners turn to Jesus Christ,
who has been resurrected,
to Christ exalted at God’s side,
your prayer and praise directed.
He has a name above all names,
so bow your knees before Him.
Confess that He is Lord and Christ,
and give all glory to Him.

v. 4
O Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
who share the triune glory.
Into Your name we are baptized
into Your wondrous story.
So help us bear Your name aright,
that it may here be honored.
Whate’er we do in word and deed,
Your name by us be furthered.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Learning Lessons from Judas in Psalm 109

Psalm 109
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

1 Be not silent, O God of my praise! 2For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me,
speaking against me with lying tongues.
3They encircle me with words of hate,
and attack me without cause.
4In return for my love they accuse me,
but I give myself to prayer.
5So they reward me evil for good,
and hatred for my love.

First, notice that this is a psalm of David. Remember David’s unique position. David was the anointed king of Israel, chosen by the Lord. Whoever opposed David, in essence, opposed the Lord himself. Whoever supported David, was on the Lord’s side.

David had a unique position, but David’s greater Son, Jesus Christ has an even more unique position. He too is the king of Israel, but he is also the Lord himself, who came to us in our own flesh. To oppose Jesus, is to oppose God himself. To receive Jesus by faith is to be on the Lord’s side. What was true of David, is even more true of the One greater than David.

The Son of God came to this earth on an errand of mercy. He came not to condemn the world, but to save it. His attitude toward sinners is one of favor and good will. This attitude is foreshadowed in verses 4 and 5. Just as David loved, prayed for, and did good to the people, so did David’s Son. Jesus Christ desires that all people come to Him for salvation.

But there are consequences for people who spurn the Christ and his saving mission. The people in verses 1-5 opposed David, who was God’s specially chosen king. They spoke against him in verse 2. The lied about him (v. 2). They hated him (v. 3). They attacked him (v. 3). They accused him (v. 4). There were consequences for this kind of attitude toward David the Lord’s christ, and there are even greater consequences for such an attitude toward Jesus Christ, who far exceeds the glory of David, since he is the very Son of God.

We see these consequences in the verses that follow:

6 Appoint a wicked man against him;
let an accuser stand at his right hand.
7When he is tried, let him come forth guilty;
let his prayer be counted as sin!
8May his days be few;
may another take his office!
9May his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow!
10May his children wander about and beg,
seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit!
11May the creditor seize all that he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil!
12Let there be none to extend kindness to him,
nor any to pity his fatherless children!
13May his posterity be cut off;
may his name be blotted out in the second generation!
14May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD,
and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out!
15 Let them be before the LORD continually,
that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth!

16For he did not remember to show kindness,
but pursued the poor and needy
and the brokenhearted, to put them to death.
17 He loved to curse; let curses come upon him!
He did not delight in blessing; may it be far from him!
18He clothed himself with cursing as his coat;
may it soak into his body like water,
like oil into his bones!
19May it be like a garment that he wraps around him,
like a belt that he puts on every day!
20May this be the reward of my accusers from the LORD,
of those who speak evil against my life!

In verse 6, we move from a group of wicked men to just one wicked man, and this wicked man receives the judgment of God for his sin against and hatred of the anointed one. Who is this one man? In David’s case it may have been Ahithophel, but in Christ’s case it was Judas. Acts 1:20 cites verse 8 as a reference to Judas, and thus it sees Psalm 109 as spoken by Jesus Christ.

We recoil to think that these words could be the words of Jesus. But we forget that judgment is the consequence for all who reject Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, sent from the Father. As C. John Collins says, “Though readers may instinctively feel that Jesus would not have said such things about his betrayer and those who plotted against him, the Gospels do include his harsh condemnations of Judas (Matt. 26:24; Mark 14:21), Pilate, and the Jewish leaders (John 19:11). Jesus asked only for the soldiers to be forgiven, “for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Jesus came to seek and save sinners. He longed to gather people to himself (Matt. 23:37-39). But if people will not receive Christ who alone brings forgiveness and favor from God, then all that remains is judgment. The same Jesus who called Judas to be his disciple and even called him “friend” as he betrayed him is also the Jesus who said it would have been better for Judas if he had never been born.

There is a lesson for all of us in this. The Son of God came to bring us salvation, but if we reject the only Door to the ark of salvation, the only thing left for us is to be left outside of the kingdom to endure the waters of judgment, weeping and wailing. Reject God’s mercy in Christ and all that is left for us is judgment. How much we need Jesus Christ who is the door to salvation, forgiveness, and eternal life!

I would bring out one other point. In the Gospels, Judas’ betrayal comes on the heels of the beautiful act of Mary. She poured out an expensive perfume that was worth thousands of dollars. Judas thought such an expensive offering to Jesus was a waste. He thought this because he loved money more than God. The small price he put on Jesus was a mere 30 silver coins.

How much do you think Jesus is worth? How much is his death on the cross for you worth? Does Jesus have a high or low value in your life?

If he has a low value, then your soul is in trouble. Your heart is like Judas, not valuing the Son of God as you should. Cry out for the mercy and favor of God in Christ. Ask Jesus to enter your heart. Ask the Father for the kind of love for Jesus that he deserves. For as the apostle Paul says, “If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed” (1 Cor. 16:22). Call upon the name of the Lord, and He will save you, “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’” (Rom. 10:13).

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Learning True Maturity from Jesus' Words in Psalm 109:22

Psalm 109:22:
22For I am poor and needy,
and my heart is stricken within me.
Psalm 109 is a psalm of David. It is a difficult psalm to understand, because it is a psalm of imprecation. In the next devotion, we will consider how we should handle this apparent difficulty. But in this devotion, I would like to consider the above verse, which is most precious.

This verse is precious because it tells us about our Lord Jesus Christ, for he is the ultimate speaker of these words. Though these words were first spoken by David, David as the “christ” or “anointed one” foreshadowed the Christ who was to come. Thus, these words are precious to us because they are really the words of Jesus, whom the Scriptures are about (see, for example, John 5:39-40 or Hebrews 2:11b-12, which names Jesus as the speaker of Psalm 22).

It is remarkable that the eternal Son of God could describe himself as “poor and needy!” But it is not surprising, since he is the one who said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29).

Jesus is the God-man. He is fully God, but also fully man. When we hear him say, “I am poor and needy,” we are hearing him speak to us as the perfect man, as the second Adam. As a human being our Lord was “poor and needy,” “gentle and lowly in heart.” He depended completely on his God to meet his needs, both the needs of body and soul.

There is only one independent being in the universe, and He is the Lord. All else depends on him for its existence and being. As human beings we are so physically dependent that our next breath comes from God. Jesus Christ came to this earth via the womb of the virgin. In that womb he was completely dependent as a little baby, and yet as the Lord, he was the sustainer of his human body and soul. The almighty God became poor and needy!

But this absolute dependence goes beyond our bodies to our souls. As blind as human beings are to their physical dependence on the Lord, we are even more blind to our spiritual dependence on him. We need his favor and good will. To be reconciled to Him is life! Jesus Christ is the Bread from heaven whose broken body reconciles us to God, and feeds our souls.

As a true man, Jesus was dependent on his heavenly Father for physical and spiritual life, and this is why he describes himself as “poor and needy.” He lived in perfect dependence on His Father, and even this human dependence was a reflection of his eternal life with the Father (including his subordination), for the Son has always done whatever He has seen of His Father, for He is the perfect image of God (see Hebrews 1:3 or John 14:9).

Having established that “poor and needy” is Jesus’ own description of himself, let’s consider how these words help us. In other words, let’s see if we can apply this doctrine to our thinking and our lives.

First, we learn something about the love of God. The almighty one became poor and needy! The all powerful God became helpless. The eternal one entered time. The self-existent, independent God became a dependent human being.

Surely, this teaches us about the nature of love. Although it sounds strange to say, God is humble. He comes down to meet us in our need. He serves us, and does so by coming to us in our own dependent, human nature, and then going in that nature to the cross.

Second, we learn something about our own identity as human beings. Human beings are dependent creatures. We were created to find our sufficiency in God. Too often we are confused at this point. We think that maturity means becoming independent, when actually maturity is about learning our dependence on the Lord for physical life and spiritual grace. True maturity is learning that, like Jesus, we too are poor and needy, therefore we must live at all times in reliant fellowship with our triune God.

Third, we learn humility. Humility is easy for someone who sees himself as poor and needy, but hard for those who see themselves as rich and self-sufficient. When we learn our true state before the Lord, then humility will become a virtue in our lives.

Fourth, we learn to empathize with those who are weak all around us. If we see ourselves as self-sufficient and not needy, it will be hard for us to relate to anyone with needs, especially if we do not share those exact needs.

On my bus I pick up a little boy who is very angry. He comes from a broken home with no father. I have never experienced such a situation, but I too am poor and needy. I need my heavenly Father. I need to know his grace, favor, and good will. When I know his favorable countenance, then I am happy, but when I do not perceive his favor, I am sad. This little boy is sad and angry because he has no father, and because I too am needy, as he is, I can empathize with his situation, pray for him, be patient with him, and show him love.

Fifth, ethically, we learn that the essence of human value is not independence. We live in a culture that seems to think that life has no value if a person is not independent. How out of touch with reality is our culture, not realizing that all people are poor and needy before the Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer of their souls.

Our culture disposes of the unborn, because the unborn are dependent, and, therefore, not valuable. Our culture makes a similar argument for euthanasia on the basis of the dependence of old people or impaired people, who cannot take care of themselves. But independence is not what defines us as human beings. Human beings were created to be dependent on God for life, sustenance, and the life of our inward being. Even our gifts, abilities, or outward success or failure in life is ultimately in his hands.

Sixth, once we realize that we are poor and needy, and God is our treasure and strength on whom we rely, we can begin to live thankfully. How much He does for us! His blessings are innumerable and he deserves endless thanks.

Seventh, once we learn that we are poor and needy, we will begin to deal with our fellow human beings in a new way. Our harshness will begin to disappear. Our arrogance toward others will begin to diminish. Our gentleness will grow. Our love will increase as we realize how the Almighty One became poor and needy to meet our needs in love.

Maturity is not about independence or self-sufficiency. Maturity is about becoming like Jesus Christ, who though he was mighty became poor and needy for our sake, and lived in complete dependence on and fellowship with his Father. May we too become poor and needy like him.

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